There was an intense media buildup, the biggest of Joe Biden’s brief presidency. Anchors flew to Geneva, networks made special “summit” graphics, the word “showdown” was tossed around.
The media portrayed the meetings with Vladimir Putin as a boxing match from which only one combatant could emerge victorious. Either Uncle Sam or the Kremlin guy was going to win. That completely distorted the nature of what was happening, two wary adversaries from nuclear states acting in their own self-interest.
“I know there was a lot of hype around this meeting,” Biden told reporters in a colossal understatement.
After the pundits immersed themselves in body language—Biden sat up straight, Putin slouched and looked uncomfortable—there was a warning sign. The Russian side had said the talks could last for many hours.
But the first session lasted 90 minutes and the second, larger meeting perhaps somewhat more than an hour. And that was it. The chatter: What could it mean? What could they possibly have accomplished? Did someone walk out?
We got the Putin version first—at mind-numbing length. The Russian strongman said Biden was very experienced and the talks were “very constructive.” Given the Biden decision not to appear together, to avoid being overshadowed as his team believes Donald Trump was at Helsinki, he ceded the stage and the first rough draft of history.
When it was Biden’s turn, he described the tone as positive and businesslike, with disagreements plainly aired. CONTINUE READING…..